CADILLAC — For nearly 30 years John Snider has been performing a task for Wexford County that many would not want.
In fact, it is likely his job is one of the most thankless jobs there is.
Snider said he has approached being the Wexford County Court Officer with the idea he will treat people who cross his path the way he would want to be treated — with respect. Considering his job revolves around evicting people, it is the least he can do.
When it comes to the reasons why people are evicted, Snider said the overwhelming majority is due to lack of payment. The other reason is typically termination under a lease which basically means they are not following the rules spelled out in the lease. That could be extra people living there, having a pet when they are not supposed to or even smoking.
Snider also said when a landlord wants to remove a tenant from their property it is not as simple as going to the residence and telling them to get out. There is a process and court proceedings overseen by a judge.
The process is called a Summary Proceeding and it moves quickly to restore the rental property to the person lawfully entitled to it.
The process starts with an eviction notice. If the landlord is successful in proving his or her case, the eviction notice may be issued and a court officer, like Snider, may remove the tenant and tenant’s personal items from the rental property. It is important to remember, there are many steps in the eviction process before the tenant is physically removed — and most landlords and tenants reach a settlement before the matter moves that far.
Case in point, Wexford County had 290 eviction filings in 2018 but that doesn’t mean there were 290 evictions, according to 84th District Court Administrator Kelly Dostal.
The landlord also must never forcibly remove the tenant or occupant himself or herself.
This includes things like changing locks, turning off utilities, or some other act or omission that interferes with the tenant’s right to possess, use, and enjoy the rental property. This is illegal and punishable by monetary damages.
When it comes to reasons that are eligible to evict someone, the law states there are nine. They include nonpayment of rent, extensive and continuing physical injury to property, serious and continuing health hazard, illegal drug activity on the premises and a formal police report filed (a lease provision must allow for such termination), violation of a lease provision and the lease allows for termination, forceful entry or peaceful entry, with forceful stay or trespass, holding over after natural expiration of lease term, “Just cause‘ for terminating tenant of mobile home park as defined in by MCL 600.5775 or “Just cause‘ for terminating tenant of government-subsidized housing defined by MCL 125.694a and 600.5714.
Dostal said having Snider in the position for nearly 30 years is a benefit to the court and the eviction process.
“It is very important (to have someone like John as court officer). It is high emotion and high-stress situation for the tenants and John handles each situation the right way. You have to have the right kind of person in that job.‘
In an already stressful situation, Snider said you definitely don’t want someone going into a home by kicking the door in, although a court officer has the ability to forcefully remove a tenant if it gets to that point.
Wexford County is a rural county and Cadillac is a small town where everyone knows everyone, according to Snider. With that in mind, he said he just tries to do the best he can do in every circumstance that is presented on the job.
“It is a smaller community and I have to work around these people. Everyone who is in this circle knows about me,‘ he said.
When it comes to the actual eviction, Snider said if he is given respect he will return it and allow tenants a few days to move out. If cooperation is not something that can be achieved he can forcefully remove them.
That, however, is always a last resort, Snider said.
When it comes to some of the more destructive things people who were evicted have done, John said tenants have put cement in toilets, took the pet waste from the yard and put it all inside the rental property and even turned off the furnace in cold weather so everything froze.
“If they treat me well they will get 2-3 days to get their stuff out of there but if we get there and the situation is not good, they will be out that day,‘ he said. “We have had houses that have had (tenants) do a lot of damage when they leave.‘
There also have been times where tenants have been aggressive toward him and during his 29 years on the job he has learned when to leave. He said it is better to walk away and not to push a situation. In those cases, law enforcement gets involved. That, however, doesn’t happen very often. He also said he has never had any type of weapon pulled on him but he has had to contend with multiple dogs.
Last month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 3, which clearly defines the list of individuals allowed to serve an order of eviction and restore the property owner to the full possession of the premises.
Senate Bill 3 establishes which officials can be ordered by a court to evict a tenant subject to a court order. The list now includes court officers, bailiffs or local law enforcement officers. Senate Bill 3 will take effect this summer.